Dita Von Teese: "I want to be the everyman's entertainment"
In person, Dita Von Teese comes across as both soft and strong. She speaks quickly but quietly, with a wonderful self-assurance. That physique that made her famous - which, on the day we spoke to her, was wrapped in a joyfully tropical, floor length dress – is impossible not to notice. She is simultaneously tiny and beautifully rounded, like a porcelain doll.
In Australia, Von Teese is known as much for her fashion clout (her lingerie line Von Follies is based her and sold in Target, while her Muse range of dresses is exclusive to David Jones) as she is for her burlesque, but today she is here to talk cocktails. Von Teese has been a Cointreau ambassador for five years, but after she explained her latest recipe we managed to get the multi-talented business woman a little off topic.
She explained to us why she rarely dances in Australia, dished her thoughts on the fashion at the Oscars (she was bored), and even revealed that her boyfriend hails from down under.
What has sparked your latest visit to Australia?
I’ve been the brand ambassador of Cointreau for over five years now so I’ve been here a few times with them and this time I’m here to talk about this new cocktail called the Cointreau fizz, which we’ve been promoting in big cities all over the world. I’m here to talk about how simple making cocktails can be.
I think there are a few keys like staying focused, planning out in advance and not trying to do too many things. That’s why I like the Cointreau Fizz, it’s just lime juice, soda, ice and Cointreau, so you just prepare those ingredients and then you can add whatever you want, like basil or cucumber or berries. I like the idea of setting up a station with lots of different things. It has that do-it-yourself element. That way you can relax and enjoy the party too.
You’ve got a personal connection to cocktails, given your most famous routine takes place in a martini glass. Why do you love them?
I think the creation of cocktails is historic, beautiful cocktails are an enduring trend. Cocktails have been around since the twenties and even before then. It’s a great evolution and I love speaking about cocktails because I think people are so quick to just pop open bottles when they’re celebrating, but I’m trying to remind people that it’s easy to mix world class cocktails at home for your guests.
What’s your all time favourite cocktail?
I love margaritas because they’re so easy to make at home, they’re my favourites. You don’t need margarita mix for them, you just need fresh lime and Cointreau and tequila. So with Cointreau we did a twist on that simple recipe called the MargaDita which was a spicy rose infused margarita.
You’ve recently tweeted about how bored you are with actresses impersonating Grace Kelly at the Oscars. How do you adopt retro influences with originality?
I just think that there are so many great vintage references. I mean I love Grace Kelly but every year at the Oscars all I can think about is that every young, twenty-something actress thinks she’s the first one to say “make me look like a modern Grace Kelly”.
There’s so much more than that and I feel like we’ve seen it for years and years. Don’t get me wrong, I love that reference, but I feel like we need more than that. There’s been this shift where everyone is overly styled, it’s become a business more than ever, and people get paid to wear certain jewels and paid to wear certain dresses, and there’s just not as much excitement. If you look at Oscars dressing from the 1930s on it’s so beautiful. In the last ten years, you can’t even tell what year it is from looking at the girls on the red carpet. Everyone looks the same. I get a little bit disheartened when I see the same hair do on everyone, similar dresses on everyone. People are trying so badly not to be the ‘worst dressed’, or trying to be the ‘best dressed’ that they’re starting to keep it so simple it isn’t exciting. I’m not saying they don’t look beautiful. Everybody looks beautiful, but I want to see more risk. I want to see excitement! I want high voltage glamour and colour. I want to see extravagance.
Do you have some alternative reference suggestions?
I was in Paris for the haute couture and I went to several shows and saw so many beautiful gowns and I thought ‘oh somebody’s going to wear that’ and ‘someone has to wear this, it’s stunning’ and I didn’t see any of my favourite things from the runways being worn on the red carpet. It’s disappointing in a way. I just think people should be a little bit more brave and just a little freer and a little more exciting, and not so afraid. When you think about it the people that do take chances now and then like when someone has worn a brilliant colour like emerald green, it’s amazing. Last night I loved Fan Bing Bing because even though she wasn’t the biggest actress there she was the most striking.
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